Updated: Oct 21, 2020
LA-based psych rockers, Send Medicine, decided to hunker down in the studio during the pandemic to craft another batch of tasty tunes. Earlier this week, the group released two brand-spanking new heaters from their latest split single release.
Originally a solo project from Toronto that relocated to LA, the group started out experimenting with a freak folk sound reminiscent of early rockers like Captain Beefheart. Over the years, they've gravitated toward a new wave of psychedelia by combining their love for bluesy rhythms with polished riffs and upbeat breaks. Early tracks like "Baby's Coast" really set the mood for their humble beginnings while their latest music video for "Scorpio Long Ago" allows them to stand out as rock n' roll torchbearers.
Send Medicine has really established a name for themselves within the underground rock community after headlining a variety of festivals and touring alongside legends like The Warlocks. If it wasn't for the pandemic, they would've already been touring abroad and playing festivals like SoCal Psycheout, yet they took advantage of their situation and found a silver lining.
Rather than frantically searching for alternate routes as artists like live-streaming concerts or making new merch, the group chose to really dial in their new sounds and record some jams. Their newest singles "Second Biggest Fan" and "High in the Rain" truly capture a mix of psychedelic rock and folksy jazz; a perfect soundtrack for desert-dwelling drifters or digital-age vagabonds.
We had the opportunity to chat with vocalist Julian Hacquebard before their latest release.
Here's what he had to say:
Q: In the past, your style of music could be described as freak folk. I just wanted to know in your words what that means?
A: Well I don’t really think it’s freak folk much anymore. I just attached that to the bio to reference the early years when I was a drunk, doing solo acoustic music. It was more influenced by psychedelic folk, Devendra Banhart, people that were making music in the mid 2000’s that wasn’t just singer-songwriter but a little freakier. I wouldn't really define that as our band now.
Q: How would you describe how your sound has changed over the years?
A: Well in the early days, the first line up was the acoustic guitar, drums and flute. That was kind of freaky excentric and weird. Then it evolved into traditional rock with two guitars, bass and drums. Now we’ve experimented with different percussive elements, widened up the sound and it's a lot more harmonious, with more synth and keyboard.
The music that hasn't came out yet has a lot more piano, less traditional garage rock n' roll. It's a little more free flowing; still has pop sensibility, still expanding. We’ll see what people think of it because we have two records now that aren't out. One will be coming out early next year and another one at the end of next year. They'll both be pretty different sounding from each other.
Q: Has it been a process within itself getting those albums all recorded and ready to release within this year 2020?
A: The first one we're going to put out was all finished and mastered last year. By the time we finished mastering it, it was late fall. It didn't seem like it was in the cards to rush it at the end of last year. It was a Thanksgiving to News Years time frame, so we waited. Then early January, we were talking to some folks about putting it out through a label perhaps, but then things went sideways and we've just been releasing singles.
For the second record that we've been recording this year, we've been building it up track by track at our studio, instead of going to a more high end studio where we rent it out and rehearse the songs.
Q: When you first started out, did you song write yourself to where you came to the band with ideas in mind or did you go to the song writing process as a unit together like a free-flowing jam.
A: We kind of do both, in a way. I typically bring a song to the group which used to be on the guitar, then we work it out in the rehearsal space. Now with the new stuff, I bring it with the piano. We've been building it up step by step, but not in a live setting.
There's been more of a back and forth about it in the studio or we get together and improvise instrumentally without an agenda. We talked more about incorporating more of that form into potential songs down the line. Our guitarist, Mark, is keen on that.
Q: Have you found creative ways to take the live music experience online at all.
A: We probably should have, we were asked a couple times to film something. We just never got it together to do that. We weren't against it, but we definitely didn't lean into that alternative as the way to make this year productive. We went back to the drawing boards. We wanted to flesh out ideas more than performing for the camera. I'm a little hesitant to put too much energy, settling for that.
(Spenser) I feel where you're coming from, especially with your bands name Send Medicine, trying to rush it and put it online quickly could seem artificial to some people when you're just trying to take your time to perfect something and actually send some medicine to the people.
A: Yeah I think that's more our style, but it's commendable. Many people are doing it pretty frequently.
Q: Do you independently release most of your material?
A: We independently release most of our stuff. We released our last project through a small label in San Francisco called Honey House that's run by some friend of ours. That was the only time we released something that wasn't completely independent. The upcoming stuff might be through someone else, but we're not totally sure about that yet.
Q: While you were playing shows during these past 7 years as a band, did you originally start playing shows in LA then venture your way up the coast to San Francisco?
A: Yeah everything started here and from LA you hit the suburb towns, then do some out in the desert, do a little Orange County run, do a little central coast run, and then find your way up to San Francisco. It definitely felt like a second home to us out there in 2018. It seemed like every time I opened my eyes, I'd be staring at our band in San Francisco. We were there a lot, especially the spring of that year. We have a lot of mutual bands and acquaintances there. It's always had a good time.
(Spenser) We were actually gonna see you guys perform this year at SoCal Psycheout back in March, but it ended up not happening.
A: Yeah that was the first gig in the fall for us that we had planned. That was the first one where we figured we had to push it back. That would've been fun. They postponed it until next spring, so fingers crossed.
Q: Since you're on the line up, do you have any information about being guaranteed on the line up?
A: The last I spoke to the promoter, which was yesterday, we're still attached and to reconfirm I would assume it's the same line up; with the exception of bands choosing to not be on it at their own will. I assume they're choosing to keep everything the same to save everyone headaches.
Q: Looking forward to next year if everything goes well, do you have any other plans other than SoCal Psycheout?
A: We're scheduled to go to Europe in May, theres obviously a big question mark around that at the moment but we were approached by a booking company that's interested in getting the group to Europe. We're just hoping the futures smooth. It's a good creative thing to have in the books. Europe's the big one. There's also a film project we're involved in along with the second of two records we're trying to put out next year and take it from there.
Q: Do you have any final words or maybe some advice you could give to up incoming artist about the future what would you have to say?
A: I would try not to get discouraged by everything going on.